Rory's Reviews > Caliban's War

Caliban's War by James S.A. Corey
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Jun 18, 2012

it was amazing

I read Leviathan Wakes just a month or so ago, and was immediately impatient for the follow up.

Caliban's War doesn't disappoint, at all. It continues the story of James Holden and his crew, taking them to a darker place. It's interesting to see how they've changed in the year (their time) since we last saw them. Holden is very much compromised by the things he's seen, and the things he's done, making for a different sort of protagonist than he was the first time around.

The other characters in the book draw attention to this, telling him he's becoming like Miller, the jaded and doomed co-protagonist of Leviathan Wakes. His relationships with his friends are put to the test, and you can feel how close Holden comes to falling apart, as those relationships seem to fragment.

Ultimately, this is more of a personal arc for him than the first novel was. A redemption story, where he has to hit somewhere close to rock bottom before he can climb his way back out. Naomi, Amos and Alex all remain appealing back up characters to that story, and I'm glad that Corey isn't turning out to be the kind of writer who just kills background characters for effect.

The added POV characters are interesting. Avasarala is a fun one. Cantankerous, deadly smart, no time for bullshit politician. She adds a much needed view of the bigger picture, shedding light on the brinkmanship and sensitive political issues that were hinted at in the first novel.

I wasn't keen on Prax, or his quest to find his daughter. Kids in peril isn't really something that tugs at my heartstrings, and as a result I never really figured out why Holden wanted to help him so much. Bigger issues at stake, and all that.

Of the new POV characters, my favourite was Bobbie Philips, the Martian marine that goes through a trauma at the beginning of the novel, then slowly regains her footing, finding new purpose and relevance. I found myself really hoping she'd join the crew of the Rocinante by the end of the novel.

James S.A. Corey is good at creating amoral, sociopathic villains, who seem to have more in mind than just personal power. But I felt that the ones in Caliban's War were a bit too similar to Dresden, from the first book. In a way, they should be, given their similar goals, but I think the 'unveiling of who's behind this' moments in both books have been a little weak.

I think the protomolecule is a fantastic idea. In the first book, it was a great macguffin to build the plot around. In this one, it's become something much more. What's happening on Venus is as much of a mystery as anything else, and it's there where I feel Corey must have done the most planning. Because with this build up, it's got to be something truly spectacular and earthshaking.

All in all though, it's a very good novel, and I look forward to book three of The Expanse. This one certainly ends on a tantalising moment that leaves you desperate to know what happens next.
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